Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Beginning TSII #454: The Gold Tipped

 Designing silver parade saddles has just about got to be my favorite model tackmaking job.  Using the i-kandis, which were so successful in TSII #447, Eleanor's Hexagon, makes it even more fun.  Here we are starting TSII #454, the next in line, with little to go on but the customer's wish for "full silvered" and my own wish for "a little touch of gold."  You see, I haven't yet gotten permission to do that, but already I'm off and running.

This is TSII  #447.  It was a trailbreaker in its day.  I've always wanted to use this technology again and intended to do so with all the parade saddles winning the 2009 Lottery.  Now that we are finally able to start work on them, it was sheer luck and a special pleasure to be able to personally visit this great saddle, recently, in September.
 Thank you, Eleanor.
We start by looking at a real saddle:
 This page is from a Bruce Lovins silver parade saddle catalog, a nicely produced reproduction which can be purchased from the source.  This particular design is called the Deluxe Parader.  I was inspired by my new-found ability to make the "4 tiny squares in 1" concha, used in the Deluxe.  What caught my eye was the gradually expanding line up the center of the serape (drape).  There must have been some inner guiding star that said, Make it gold!  So we go to the time-tested method of drawing a picture.  Years ago I had a standard drawing of a parade saddle to help me, but my patterns have evolved beyond that, and now each saddle gets its own.
You would not believe how much work is in one of these sheets, even at this early stage.  This is its second incarnation...  and it's got many more to go!   But rest assured, those little doohickies are the very ones that will be used in construction, if and when the thing ever settles into a final form.  I stick them on a face-up piece of tape, so re-arranging is merely a matter of prying them up and sticking them back down.  This also explains the ragged edges around the serape, which are Scotch tape remains.  In the drawing, colored pencil is used. 

A custom-made wooden anvil, or stamping block, is used for the stamping of the i-kandis.  It has pins and screws in it to hold up under the pressures and form centers for the various stamps.   My block is much used and dates at least as far back as my Louise Cottam saddle, which used the little star and ivy leaf in the lower right corner.  I much enjoy making my own tools... it must be where my customizing bones are.
The 4 pins near the center are the most recent, just put in for the 4-square concha.

At this point in the design process, most of the rough work is done, but many questions remain.  What color will the corona be?  If any?  What about the bridle?  I am not happy with the tapadero... can we improve it?  And WHICH drop to use!!! -- there are three different ones illustrated!!
From left to right: Squares, Triangles and Diamond.  They could all work -- that's the sweeping rush of creation, which spews out alternatives at a far greater rate than they can be digested or implemented.  Time must pass and the customer must be consulted before I can choose which one.

I know I promised a post on stable blankets, and I intend to still -- but this saddle has taken center stage.  I chose to let it.  At the moment of posting, it named itself.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

TSII #453: Roseleaf Roper

With much excitement and pride I present:  TSII #453, Feldman's Roper, nicknamed the Roseleaf!  Finished last night, this is the third saddle I've managed to complete in the year!  It does feel like I'm finally back in the saddle, -- dare I say.

This morning the lighting conditions were perfect for a few railing shots.  I was unable to resist tacking up Valhombra.  He is coming with me as Stowaway to Didi Hornberger's show this weekend (I leave today).  Every show has its stowaway.  A stowaway is a horse that isn't showing, isn't for sale, isn't exhibiting or doing anything useful, but who has to come anyway.  In this case it's because his wife will be showing.
This saddle was built on the ISH, but one naturally wants to try it out on other models.  As it happens I have seen my population of Carricks go from 1 to 3 in the past two weeks, so this mold is on my mind.  (The other two are Bonne Fete and Travis.)  It's a good test of a new piece anyway.
 One of the more obvious new tricks of #453 is the rawhide wrap around the horn.  As before stated, I chose to go with the simple approach.  This is ostrich rawhide. 
Another noteworthy aspect is the blanket.  I gave the customer the choice of existing blankets that I had made, or she could custom-order one.  She chose this one, a very special Reinata of Chris Armstrong design.  It is the one featured on this blog last year: Blanket Kit.

Valhombra makes a striking pose when taken from the front:  almost too striking!  That front foot tends to get exaggerated:
Still this is the best way to see the breastcollar.  Sorry, the hackamore has nothing to do with the saddle!  The colors matched and it was my own.... that's all.  Earlier, last night, we were shooting the saddle alone:
This is the best way to see that there is tooling under the cantle -- and it's not such a great view.  You'll have to take my word that there's rose leaves and the initials "TSII" under there.  Our saddles are all signed and numbered on the base plate (bottom skirt), UNDER the fenders, with number on the off side and SBY and the year on the near side.
If ever there was a color to fit the order, it's this horse!  Stone's Ima Hustlin Breeze from 2003, but in my herd she's called Rayonnant.I think the tackmaker, like a sculptress, sees the saddle most often and best from above.  This set's seat reflects that.
I tried so hard with this seat.  There's a three-layer sandwich of a tree in there, part metal, part leather.  It's not something I'd mass-produce; I admit, it needs work.  This piece truly is one-of-a-kind.  If, after you've spent months struggling with a saddle and finally finish it, the first thing you say is "I wanna do it again DIFFERENT in x--x--x--"  then you're a tackmaker!! 
As it happens, next is a parade set, so I'm one happy camper... for that and many other reasons!
 The braiding on the back cinch keeper is something I've only done three times before.  It's based on Grant's applique braid of 2 passes.
And now for something different.  I always like to see other folks' backyards and views, so here's a small entrant in the Scene class:  my own.
Rather green for October, eh?  but wonderful.  That's Bald Eagle Mountain in the distance. 
Coming soon:  a post on stable blankets!  Keep up with my news on our Tack Orders page, as always.
Happy tacking!